On October 21st 2010 US President Barack Obama received the final version of a 505 page report from Chairperson Hillary Rodham Clinton. In the balanced judgement of the Committee, former Vice President Dick Cheney was deemed primarily responsible for the catastrophic decision to formally dissolve the Iraqi Army and the tragic consequences that followed.
On May 23, 2003 the Director of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance L. Paul 'Jerry' Bremer issued Coalition Provisional Authority Order Number 2, in effect dissolving the entire former Iraqi army and putting 400,000 former Iraqi soldiers out of work. The move was widely criticized for creating a large pool of armed and disgruntled youths for the insurgency to draw recruits from.
It was highly improbable that a Washington insider such as Bremer had the required confidence and insight to make such a far-reaching decision unilaterally and just two days into his new role as de facto Governor. General John Abizaid briefed officials in Washington by reporting that there are no1 organized Iraqi military units left . Subsequently, in a letter written by Bremer to President George W. Bush three days before Order Number 2 was issued, Bremer stated I will parallel this step with an even more robust measure dissolving Saddam's military and intelligence structures to emphasize that we mean business.
Short-lived predecessor Jay Garner reported Bremer as saying: The plans have changed. The thought is we don't want the residuals of the old army. We want a new and fresh army. to which Garner replied: Jerry, you can get rid of an army in a day, but it takes years to build one.
'Jerry' was unable to present evidence to the Committee - he was assassinated on December 6, 20032 when his convoy was driving on the dangerous Baghdad airport road. During his stay in Iraq, the Al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden had placed a bounty of 10,000 grams of gold on Bremer, the equivalent of $125,000 US at the time. While returning to the fortified Green Zone, the convoy was attacked by rebels, hit by a bomb and gunfire, with the rear window of his Suburban blown away killing Bremer and his deputies.
Officially, the Director of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance reported to US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, with a dotted line into President George W. Bush; both of whom denied authorising Order Number 2. In fact, neither Bush nor Rumsfeld was the real boss, a fact revealed by Bremer's use of the third person in describing his orders to Jay Garner.
Journalist Fred Kaplan correctly identified the decision-maker in a feature article Who Disbanded the Iraqi Army? And why was nobody held accountable? ~ Bremer is right about one thing: It wasn't him. Though he wouldn't be so self-demeaning as to admit it, he was a mere errand boy on this point. He arrived in Baghdad on May 14, 2003. The next day, he released CPA Order No. 1, barring members of the Baath Party from all but the lowliest government posts. The next day, he issued CPA Order No. 2, disbanding the Iraqi army. Feith was a messenger, too, reporting directly to Paul Wolfowitz, the deputy secretary of defense, and ultimately to Secretary Rumsfeld. Did Rumsfeld write the order? Bob Woodward, in State of Denial: Bush at War, Part III, quotes Rumsfeld as saying that the order came from elsewhere. Does that mean it came from the White House? My guess is it came from Vice President Dick Cheney, if only because his is one of the most leakproof offices in Washington. Had the order originated someplace else, that fact would have leaked by now. It's like the dog that didn't bark in the Sherlock Holmes story; unbarking dogs in this administration, especially at this late date of decrepitude, tend to be the hounds in Cheney's kennel.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt famously remarked that the Vice Presidency wasn't worth a pitcher of warm piss3 , although this was of course superseded to some extend by his death in office, gifting the White House to Harry S. Truman. Yet in 1977, Walter Mondale had revitalised the Vice Presidency from the office's lowest; upon appointment he was the fourth incumbent in four years. Al Gore was described by Bill Clinton as the most effective Vice Presidency in the history of the republic. Now the Committee of Investigation called time; Cheney had executed extra-constitutional responsibilities in his role as Vice President. Not only had he gone too far, the very basis of America's democratic institutions had been subverted by Cheney's over-involvement. A recommendation was made to author a Constitutional Amendment that would either abolish the role entirely, or place strict executive limits upon future incumbents. Upon Joseph Biden's departure, the office of Vice President was disbanded with effect from January 20th, 2013.
The primary source of this article is Who Disbanded the Iraqi Army? And why was nobody held accountable? By Fred Kaplan & Thomas E. Ricks, Fiasco - The American Military Adventury in Iraq. Extensive use original content has been repurposed to celebrate the authors' genius.
The idea for this post was conceived from Fred Kaplan's discussion of accountability for such a monumental decision.
Note 1 ~ In Fiasco - The American Military Adventury in Iraq,
Thomas E. Ricks argues that the Fall of Baghdad was an emphemeral victory and
that the Iraqi Army effectively sought to continue the campaign as insurgents.
Therefore, the Iraqi Army had not disbanded, simply restructured into irregular
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